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Timberwolves 106, Nets 122: Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Basketball Game

With apologies to Wallace Stevens.

I
A skeleton crew of wolves
— leaderless, bereft of energy, stripped raw
by the road — came back, but not home.

II
For a team to suffer from defensive breakdowns,
first there must be a defense.

III
Plus/minus is a stat that depends a lot on context,
except when you’re -23, Zach LaVine.
Then it’s just bad.

IV
Even the scoreboard could not be bothered
to care, at one point showing the Nets down
98-2 and later, up 9-1.
It was that kind of game.

V
The Kevin Garnett bounce has left
the building. Never more than half full,
by the last several minutes, the stands
had turned into a ghost town,
home only to empty popcorn bags
like tumbleweeds.

VI
The Wolves have lost their last five games
by thirteen, nine, fourteen, twenty-six and sixteen points.
Through a barren field rolls a single tank.

VII
“He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster.
And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee.”
Nietzsche said that. He wasn’t talking about late-season Timberwolves basketball.
But he could have been.

VIII
A tree grew in Brooklyn tonight. If
by tree you mean a franchise record for points in the paint.
(72, if you wanted to know.)

IX
Did you guys see that show “The Jinx” on HBO?
I can’t say there weren’t issues inherent
in the point of view, questions about bias and
objectivity, but it was truly compelling television. You
should check it out if your parents have HBO.

X
Thad Young came back and did Thad Young
things, putting up nineteen with three rebounds.
It’s strange, but in some ways it’s like he was
never even here, a stray cat you fed for a few weeks
and then gone.

XI
Sometimes, the seasons blur together. Was it
last year they lost so many games to injury?
Or the year before? When they could barely field
the minimum eight guys? It’s not that every year starts
or ends the same — they simply spin around each other
faster and faster until it rises into one unending howling threnody.

XII
Halftime media snacks were pretzels
and M&Ms. Combine one pretzel and two to
three M&Ms and that’s some delicious.

XIII
New Kendrick Lamar dropped today and it’s beautiful
to receive something so thick and layered you can’t even
really see it, can’t hear it. Each season starts almost in this way
but now, what can we learn? The Wolves might
be growing, but they’re not changing, not unfurling.
We just go back to the battlements,
hoping for betterment.

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